Our immune system does not shut down with age, says a new study led by McMaster University researchers.
A study published in PLOS Pathogens today shows a specialized class of immune cells, known as T cells, can respond to virus infections in an older person with the same vigour as T cells from a young person.
"For a long time, it was thought the elderly were at a higher risk of infections because they lacked these immune cells, but that simply isn't the case," said Jonathan Bramson, the study's principal investigator. "The elderly are certainly capable of developing immunity to viruses."
Researchers at McMaster, University of Toronto and the University of Pennsylvania examined individuals, younger than 40, between 41 to 59 years of age and older than 60, infected with three different viruses, including West Nile, and found the older group demonstrated perfectly normal immune responses.
Both the number of virus-fighting T cells and the functionality of the T cells were equivalent in all three groups.
"So as we age, our bodies are still able to respond to new viruses, while keeping us immune to viruses we've been exposed to in the past," Bramson said.
He added that these results have important implications for vaccination of elderly individuals.
Currently, vaccines for the elderly aren't designed to elicit responses from these immune cells, and this might explain the lack of effective protection from the flu vaccine, he said.
Vaccines specifically designed to generate T-cell immunity may be more effective at protecting older adults, Bramson said.
McMaster University: http://www.mcmaster.ca
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
What’s scarier than a tyrannosaur? Three tyrannosaurs.
The timing of when a girl reaches puberty is controlled by hundreds of genes, say scientists.
After the world's most expensive salvage operation, the ill-fated Costa Concordia is being floated back to Genoa, where it will be chopped up for scrap metal
Hijacking how neurons of nematode worms are wired is the first step in an approach that could revolutionise our understanding of brains and consciousness
A Beverly Hills auction house has an unusual fossil for sale. It's not an ancient animal. It's something an ancient animal left behind — and it's very, very long.
Dog owners don't doubt that their pooch has feelings. But scientists aren't so sure. An experiment found that dogs act upset, dare we say jealous, when their owners ignore them for a stuffed animal.
Princeton University’s annual science art contest shines a light on the research world, adding a video element this year
Using mitochondrial replacement therapy to create embryos with DNA from three people could have serious consequences Continue reading...
Chinese and Australian scientists find pandas migrate long distances to maintain a balanced diet which helps them breed
On the morning of March 15, 2000, 17 beaked whales stranded themselves on beaches in the northern Bahamas. It was an terrible and extraordinary event: beaked whales are the world's deepest-diving mammals, and these creatures had spent most of their lives in deep undersea canyons.